EXCLUSIVE: Deborah Oppenheimer has been named to the newly created role of executive vp at Carnival Films, giving the company a dedicated full-time presence in Los Angeles, as the company expands further into the US and international markets. Oppenheimer will be responsible for launching new scripted series for Carnival and will continue to oversee its flagship series, Downton Abbey, which has sold into more than 200 territories and has been seen by 120 million viewers worldwide.

Oppenheimer will play a pivotal role in the company’s domestic and international growth strategy, reporting directly to Carnival Managing Director Gareth Neame. Over the past three years, Oppenheimer has led the Los Angeles operations for NBCU International Television Production, working across all its labels – including Carnival (Dracula), as well as Matchbox Pictures (Camp), and Lucky Giant (Family Tree). Oppenheimer also was responsible for, and exec produced, the HBO and BBC2 co-production of Family Tree from director Christopher Guest. Oppenheimer worked closely with Carnival Films, managing Downton Abbey’s success in the US, and oversaw its production of Dracula, which will air on NBC in the US.

Nearly five years ago to the day, then GE-owned NBC Universal’s International TV Production division made its first move into UK independent production with the purchase of Carnival, which had been founded in 1978. At the time, Carnival’s catalogue included such titles as Traffik, Poirot, Jeeves And Wooster, and Rosemary And Thyme. Not long thereafter, it began work on Downton Abbey –the most nominated non-US show in Emmy history with a total of 39 to date (and 9 wins).

“Deborah has been instrumental in Carnival’s success in the US to date; with Deb’s instincts and tenacity we hope to build strongly on that success in the years ahead,” added Carnival Films managing director Gareth Neame, who first came to the company from the BBC in ’04.